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The "Serpari" Festival

Historical origin of the serpari procession

(from "S. Domenico Abate Protector of Cocullo" by Sac. Adolfo Angelucci)

Cocullo was, for the power of Rome, the last military bulwark of Lazio as stated in the historian Strabo. So the country, with the surrounding areas, was the seat of the logistical services of the Roman army committed to the conquest of Corfinium.

Naturally, with their prolonged stay, the Romans introduced, among the locals, their uses, customs and pagan traditions. One of these traditions consisted precisely in offering the first spring warmth, to the Goddess Angizia, a homage of live snakes as a propitiatory rite. This custom has remained rooted among the Cocullis even in the period in which S. Domenico came.

After the many miracles and extraordinary portents worked by the Saint in freeing the Cocullesis from the bites of vipers and poisonous snakes, in making snakes that had penetrated them come out of the stomach of people, that pagan custom was transformed by the Cocullesis into a rite of religious Catholic homage St. Dominic as an act of filial gratitude to the Saint who tangibly and practically had shown himself, unlike the mute and defenseless Goddess Angizia, a liberator from the sad consequences of the poison of snakes.

View of Cocullo Village

The Catholic Church that does not disdain to venerate St. Anthony who speaks to fish in Rimini in spite of human spiritual deafness, and a St. Francis who converses softly and affably with birds, also agrees St. Dominic who, protecting from snake bites, it helps to free souls from the assaults of the infernal serpent, the eternal enemy of God and man.

For hundreds and hundreds of years that homage has been repeated in Cocullo every first Thursday in May, when, at the exit of the statue from the Sanctuary for the procession, the Serpari gather around San Domenico to offer him the numerous snakes captured in the surrounding areas. the country.

By now the fame of this ancient tradition has surpassed the borders of Italy because the modern means of communication have made known to everyone and in all continents the nice religious-folk tradition that honors the Church and Abruzzo so much, and that every first Thursday in May brings thousands of pilgrims and foreigners from all over the world to Cocullo; without mentioning the many others who continuously come to Cocullo during the year to obtain graces from Saint Dominic or to thank him for those they have already obtained.

The Serpari Festival is now held every first day of May since 2012.

No snakes are harmed during the event, and they are set free right after the Festival has ended.

Exclusive pictures from our private family collection

My father EmoDi Tillio holding a snake during the event. To the right, my beloved Grandfather Mario Orlando smiling at the camera. His smile was made of sunshine and his heart of solid gold.